Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Ultimate Geography Question

Geography QuestionsIt's been a long week and I'm to the point where I can hardly speak coherently let alone write in complete sentences--this starting up a business thing feels like its kicking us around pretty thoroughly. I told Andrew I'd truly be manic depressive if only I had more time for it. . . .

So I'm going to leave you with a thought, one we spent quite a while discussing while in the car yet came to no solid conclusions on.

Pretend that you were able to drill a hole through the entire earth. Right through the middle, creating a big straight tube that ran completely down the center and out the other side. Now say, hypothetically, that you were to fall into that tunnel.

What would happen??

Of course, aside from burning up in the heat. Pretend the temperatures aren't an issue. You'd fall of course, fall for thousands of miles toward the center but once you got to the center what would happen to you? That's the part that's stumped us.

You wouldn't fall clear through and out the other side because gravity pulls you to the center. But the center is drilled away so there's no place to land. Would you just stay, suspended in the center of the earth once you reached it? Would you overshoot the center with the momentum of the fall then spring back as if you were on a big bungee cord? Would you stick to the inside of the tunnel as if it were flat ground? Someone out there must know. The truth is out there.

Spencer was the one to pose the question and it gave us a good brain squeeze.

P.S. Sorry Canada about drilling a hole practically in the middle of Halifax. Nothing personal, really.

P.S.S. If you feel you've been cheated and not recieved enough post for your money, try these great links instead:

The Best Geography Game in the World
How to Travel by Cargo Ship
How Not to Look Like an American Tourist
How to Travel the World on $35 a Day

Sponsored by Forty Fish Eggs

29 comments:

Peruby said...

It is the spinning that causes the gravity, so maybe a hole/tube all the way through the middle would mess with the spin. But, then again - maybe the hole/tube wouldn't be big enough.

Maybe the earth would start to wobble and you would be bounced around like a peanut in a rolling can.

Owww! This is way too much thinking for my brain this early in the morning. :-) Fun though.

branda50 said...

I am sorry you are having a tough week..But when I first saw the globe I thought you were coming to visit me..
I didn't feel like I was cheated on your blog but I did like the geography game...The cargo ship travel isn't for me and I took notes on the American tourist article...Who'd have thought you shouldn't wear black socks with shorts...hehe

chelle said...

Ouch!
hehe

Flea said...

Dang. I hate these kinds of questions. I wanted to see Australia. You just ruined it for me.

Pam said...

I think it would be like a pendulum swinging - you would overshoot the middle but gravity would pull you back. You would overshoot less on the other side and then back and forth in smaller amounts till you finally become suspended in the center. But I will ask my Physicist Prof friend to be sure and report back

NorahS said...

I got plenty of post for my money. I always do when I come here. I am hoping things will smooth out for you soon! As for the question, I would rather read someone else's thoughts about it than ponder my own. (Being in the YW pres. is what's kicking me around. Yikes!)

imadramamama.wordpress.com said...

I'm sure there would have to be pressure changes if you fell to the center of the earth so my bet would be that you would die before you got to the center because your sinuses exploded.

That's such a happy thought, LOL!

Suburban Correspondent said...

David tells me it would be the bungee-cord scenario. He's the physicist around here. Of course Brian (our resident geologist) then chimed in with the "But you'll burn up before then" scenario.

Scribbit said...

I tried to avoid your house Chelle, the hole is on the other side of town :)

jubilee said...

Oh, my head hurts trying to wrap my brain around the question. It's a good one though.

anna angela said...

I'm hoping to meet Brendan Fraser. Kudos if you get what I mean!

The Source said...

Oh stop it already...my brain is smoking...too much to process here. :) I haven't got a clue what would happen, but I'm a big old chicken so how about I stay here and collect the data while you take the plunge?

Dan said...

Modulo some minor Coriolis effects due to the spin, you oscillate up and down the tube. This is a standard physics problem covered in many first year physics texts.

A good discussion including the angular momentum issue and even non-bisecting tubes are disscussed in lay terms here

Carina said...

Strangely enough, my husband and I have had the exact same discussion. Scary, eh?

Terresa said...

Not sure the answer on this one. I studied English lit & Library Science in college & grad school. That's my excuse for not knowing, anyhow.

**PS: About your "November Write Away Contest" -- I was wondering if there is a specific length of essay/post you're looking for? --Thx!

J at www.jellyjules.com said...

And here I thought my family was the only one that had weird conversations like that.

Heidi said...

Great book at our Anch. library entitled 'How to Dig a Hole to the Other Side of the World' by Faith McNulty. Fun and informational but ignores the gravity issue in the center....hmmm. Great question! I'm flummoxed.

Lori said...

I imagine that once you got to the center you'd be crushed. The center is solid iron and there's a magnetic pull there. I would imagine something would happen with the iron and other traces of metal in our bloodstream, but then again, I didn't pay all that much attention in astronomy...

Hope your week is getting better!

Carissa(GoodnCrazy) said...

Yeah too much for my brain today.. :)


It's crazy hair day here (I think for Fri 13th..) so maybe it's affecting me too... :)

I'm ready to hear all about the new business... WOW!!!!!!!!!!

Dana said...

Assuming a lof of things to get you that tunnel through the center of the earth (through the molten metal without it flowing into your tunnel etc etc), you would oscillate (like on a bungee cord), as others have written. Wheesh... Wheeesh... Wheesh... While you're doing that, if you see my husband when you're on the other side by Antarctica, please send him my greetings. OK, it would be the wrong side of Antarctica, but men never ask for directions when they are lost, and they do get lost on occasion... so there is some possility he might be there :)

Cheri said...

Yey! A Physics question. I use to teach HS Physics and have a BS in Physics, I'm not expert but I have seen this question before.

First, in response to comment one. Any object that has a mass as a gravitational pull. Gravity is not caused by spinning.

Second, Pam is correct:

I think it would be like a pendulum swinging - you would overshoot the middle but gravity would pull you back. You would overshoot less on the other side and then back and forth in smaller amounts till you finally become suspended in the center.

Thanks for the question.

You should pose a question every week!

Cheri said...

Oops. Small typo in first part of my comment, this is how it should read:

First, in response to comment one. Any object that has a mass has a gravitational pull. Gravity is not caused by spinning.

The Random Muse said...

I think you would probably be crushed by the pressure. You might get smacked into the tunnel wall by the rotation. Or maybe the fact that gravity is actually two bodies attracting each other would mean that you would be attracted to wall and somewhere near the middle you would land on the side. Overshooting and doing the pendulum thing also seems likely. I don't know. I've posted a plea on facebook; hopefully one of my physics friends will answer.

Amy @ Experience Imagination said...

I hate coming late to the party, all the good answers are already taken.

How about this? When you get to the center, you bang into the core where there is a 90° turn necessary to make the part drilled by the Scribbits and the part drilled by the Canadians meet up (a la Lake Shore Drive in Chicago).

Lei said...

Lol! Now there is somethign to think about! I will ask my know-it-all 10 year old when I get a chance. ;)

Peruby said...

It's not the spinning?

I'm glad I came back and read the comments. I stand corrected. I could have sworn one of my teachers told me that if the earth stopped spinning we would fly off into space or something like that.

I can STILL be taught something!

lfhpueblo said...

I think at some point you'd die from a proper amount of oxygen due to gases that are probably emitted nearer the center point and then all this wouldn't be an issue.

Phil said...

haha, spinning is not what causes gravity. Gravity is one of the four forces of matter.

As for the answer, you would float in the middle, eventually. At the center of the earth you would still have all of the Earth's gravity acting on your body, but it would be coming equally from all directions, canceling out. It would be like floating in space or orbit. Gravity would only become unbalanced towards one direction when you got some significant distance from the center, so you would probably end up floating at some spot within a few hundred or thousand miles from the center.

Organizing Mommy said...

If you are eliminating the temperature, couldn't you eliminate gravity also? just wondering.